Tune of the Day: Aria from the Goldberg Variations
The Goldberg Variations are a set of an aria and 30 variations for harpsichord composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. First published in 1741, the work is named after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who may have been the first performer.
The aria is a slow sarabande in 3/4 time, and features a heavily ornamented melody. It is played at the beginning of the Variations, and then repeated at the end of the work. It is also found in Book II of the 1725 Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, copied by Bach's wife herself. In this instance, the aria bears neither the name of the composer nor the title of the piece: it is therefore possible that the author of this wonderful piece is anonymous. However, as musicologist David Schulenberg has pointed out, “the Aria is neither Italian nor French but specifically German galant in style, and certain details point directly to Bach, especially the beautiful broadening out of the rhythm into steadily flowing notes in the last phrase”.